Baltimore Sun

High-maintenanc­e friend’s drama draining

- By Amy Dickinson askamy@amydickins­ Twitter@askingamy Distribute­d by Tribune Content Agency

Dear Amy: I love my friend “Charlene,” but she is the very definition of high maintenanc­e.

She drinks too much — every day — and sleeps with strangers she meets in bars. The problem then becomes that she thinks she is in a relationsh­ip with them, and is then crushed when things don’t work out. And they never work out. I’m not exaggerati­ng.

She is extremely sexual and is very vulnerable. She is desperate for an authentic and loving relationsh­ip, but men have used, abused and taken advantage of her.

She ignores every piece of advice I give her but then she expects me to be a shoulder to cry on when her life falls apart. It completely drains me.

I try to be supportive and nonjudgmen­tal because she really is a beautiful person. She has been there for me through some tough times, but this friendship has become draining.

She is in counseling but constantly uses me to vent and cry to. I love her dearly, but I don’t want to be that listening ear anymore.

It’s exhausting, but I feel guilty and terrible for feeling this way.

Am I a bad friend?

— Bad Friend

Dear Bad Friend: The only “bad” thing you’ve done is to possibly delay “Charlene’s” recovery by offering advice, but not giving her the unvarnishe­d truth.

As long as she has you as her soft and nonjudgmen­tal place to fall, she doesn’t need to face the underlying source of her drama.

Try some nonjudgmen­tal honesty: “I’m exhausted by this drama. I’ve tried to help you, but I’ve failed.

At this point, I just hope that when you’re ready to change, you will.”

Dear Amy: My family and I live in my mother-in-law’s house. It works out well for all. I have a concern about my mother-in-law, however.

She writes a check to pretty much any charity that asks. She doesn’t give large amounts — just $10 or $20, for the most part. But, of course, those same charities send a never-ending barrage of mail, and now, seemingly every other charity in the country has been sold her address and sends her solicitati­ons.

Giving to charity is not the problem. I believe many of these charities are not using her money wisely or are completely random charities in far-flung places that have nothing to do with the many causes that might actually affect her life.

We tell her that, in some cases, she’s just throwing money away — that for every $10 she sends, maybe $1 or $2 make it to someone in need.

We suggest that she choose one or two causes that are dear to her and give only to them, even in much larger amounts that might equal what she gives to all of these various organizati­ons, added together.

What do you think? I’ve tried to look up some of these places on charity watchdog websites, but most don’t even show up on them (which should maybe tell us something)!

— Worried

Dear Worried: Some “charities” (and I use that term loosely) seem to exist mainly to hook generous older people into the cycle you describe.

I use Charitynav­igator .org to look into any nonprofit I’m interested in. This organizati­on uses many different metrics to assess a charity, and its rating system has a reliable reputation.

I hope you will continue to keep a close eye on your mother-in-law’s giving. Go over these solicitati­ons with her, and as you do, look up the organizati­on to learn more about them, and show her the results.

She has the right to do whatever she chooses with her money, but she may be the victim of exploitati­on — or a scam.

I urge all of you to keep your giving local! Your local animal shelter, cultural institutio­ns, library and children’s afterschoo­l programs would all appreciate a boost. Your mother-in-law’s donation would go much further, and she would have a personal connection to the institutio­n receiving it.

Dear Amy: Thank you for your reply to “Casual?” who was dating a dad, but didn’t enjoy spending time with the man’s son.

I was so glad that you stood up for this boy. A child should always be the parent’s priority, and anyone dating a parent should understand this.

— Single Parent

Dear Single Parent: I appreciate­d “Casual’s” honesty regarding this situation.

Copyright 2022 by Amy Dickinson

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